Thursday, 16 August 2012


“A great city is not to be confounded with a populous one.” - Aristotle

Melbourne has once again been voted by the Economist Intelligence Unit “The Most Liveable City” in the world for the second year in succession. On and off it has been up there with the best of them for several years now and it has been declared the best to live in several times in the past. The concept of liveability assesses which locations around the world provide the best or the worst living conditions. One can perhaps understand it if one compares Melbourne to some of the cities that did not do so well in the list: Karachi, Algiers, Harare, Lagos, Port Moresby and Dhaka.

Liveability relates to standards of living, facilities available, personal safety, crime rate, resources and services, cost of living, housing, public transport, health care, cultural events, open spaces and parks, sporting facilities, etc. The top ten most liveable cities in the world are: 1. Melbourne, Australia;
2. Vienna, Austria;
3. Vancouver, Canada;
4. Toronto, Canada;
5. Calgary, Canada;
5. Adelaide, Australia;
7. Sydney, Australia;
8. Helsinki, Finland; 9. Perth, Australia;
10. Auckland, New Zealand.

Assessing liveability has a broad range of uses. The survey originated as a means of testing whether Human Resource Departments needed to assign a hardship allowance as part of expatriate relocation packages. While this function is still a central potential use of the survey, it has also evolved as a broad means of benchmarking cities. This means that liveability is increasingly used by city councils, organisations or corporate entities looking to test their locations against others to see general areas where liveability can differ.

To gain top spot, Melbourne outperformed 140 rivals to top the Global Liveability Survey with a score of 97.5 per cent, losing points for climate, culture and petty crime. Infrastructural development has been important in over the last few years, with improvements to infrastructure in key cities in Australia, where the federal government initiated an ambitious long-term road-building program in 2010. For cities in general, these measures will no doubt have a long-term benefit, but in the short term they can be disruptive.

Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Robert Doyle said continuing to drive down crime and an underground rail line linking North Melbourne to Domain on St Kilda Rd were crucial to retain liveability status. University of Melbourne architectural design chair Professor Donald Bates, a Federation Square co-designer, said increasing capacity on the tram and train networks and more moderate-density housing were needed to deal with the unprecedented growth rate that is occurring.

As a Melbournian I can certainly vouch for the high liveability score of my home city. However, having lived here for most of my life, several decades now, I can also see that things are not all rosy. Liveability doesn’t simply mean nice restaurants, good sports venues and a wealth of entertainment to choose from. It also means low pollution, managed traffic, good parking options, lots of green space and not so many high density housing density developments. It means a reliable and safe water supply, green energy and renewable resources. If Melbourne is to continue being the most liveable city in the world, our city planners have a mammoth task in front of them, especially so with ever-increasing population…


  1. In the past decade, i always assumed that Melbourne was competing with Vancouver, Toronto and Sydney for World's Most Livable City. Those four cities have political stability, no guns, national health services, good public transport, low unemployment, plenty of protected parklands etc..

    Vienna and Helsinki are interesting. I wonder if those two cities are always in the top 10 list. What about other European cities?

  2. The University of Melbourne's ranking as Australia's top university has been reaffirmed in the Academic Ranking of World Universities 2012. The rankings, which puts Melbourne Uni at #57 in the entire universe, are compiled annually by the Centre for World Class Universities, Shanghai.

    I wonder if this counts.

  3. i always somehow assumed it was calgary.....